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Predestination: The Meaning of Predestination in Scripture and the Church Paperback – May 22, 1998
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In part two of the book the various solutions to the problem of predestination are explored. Positions ranging from those developed in the Middle Ages, to St. Thomas Aquinas, the various Protestant stances, and positions arising after the Council of Trent. In this section Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange introduces the teaching of the Jesuit, L. Molina. Throughout the remainder of the work, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange compares the doctrine of Molina and his sciencia media to that of the Thomists, using it as a sort of relief against which he defends the principle of predilection first articulated by St. Augustine and later advanced by St. Thomas.
The principle of predilection, "one thing would not be better than another, if God did not will greater good for one than for the other," is referred to on numerous occasions. According to Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, the answer to why some individuals are among the "Elect" and predestined from all eternity to glory and others are among the "Reprobate" and allowed to freely resist God's grace can be found in no other answer except that God loves some individuals more than others. God is not bound to love everyone equally, and if anyone goes to hell it is not because God is denying something owed to the individual, but because God in His Sovereign Will chooses to manifest in these individuals His justice, while in the Elect He manifests His mercy. The awesomeness of someone, through their own free will, choosing not to respond to God's grace and subsequently being damned is disturbing to us and rightly so. Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange admits that in this life, how God's mercy and justice are reconciled will always allude us, but it is clear that the beauty of God's creation could not be known by anyone but Himself and would therefore be pointless if there were no free beings to witness it. This implies the revelation of God in the totality of His being and therefore His justice as well as His mercy. God's justice is manifested through the damnation of the Reprobate. That we don't see the beauty in this doesn't mean God is unfair, but that we simply are deficient in our ability to appreciate the beauty of God's justice in the same way that we appreciate His mercy. Our personal sinfulness makes us biased toward God's mercy and prevents us from an objective appreciation of His justice. In other words, if we truly realized the gravity of sin we would then concur in the damnation of the Reprobate as readily as we would in the glory of the Elect.
In part three, the manner in which God's grace operates within us is described. For me this was the most interesting since the puzzle lies in how God causes an individual to infallibly choose to respond to His grace without violating the individual's free will. The answer, because of its simplicity, can be easily overlooked or fall into suspicion. St. Thomas is quoted in response to the objection: "Every cause that cannot be hindered, produces its effect necessarily. But the will of God cannot be hindered," therefore if God determines our will it is not free. St. Thomas responds,
"From the very fact that nothing resists the divine will, it follows that not only those things happen that God wills to happen, but that they happen necessarily or contingently according to His will." Therefore, when God wills that a man do a particular thing He wills it in accord with the man's nature, that is, in such a way that the man do it freely. Only God because of the absolute efficaciousness of His omnipotent Will can accomplish this. This concept of "physical premotion" becomes the overriding preoccupation for the remainder of the book since it is crucial that its operation be correctly understood.
Many ideas are repeated in this work and the reader may feel it monotonous, but the arguments are so subtle that frequent repetition helps the ideas to ferment in the mind. If one is patient, the third part of the book explains the "how" of predestination and for me this was the most profitable.
Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange could have addressed the ideas of the Reformers more deeply. I came away with a good grasp of the ideas of St. Augustine, St. Thomas, and Molina, but those of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin were barely touched upon. Perhaps he felt the ideas of the Reformers were nothing new, already having been dealt with in earlier heresies.
For those without a background in philosophical terminology the book will be difficult, but the same ideas are reviewed from so many different angles that if one is persistent the terminology will become self-explanatory.
Reverend Garrigou-Lagrange organized this work into 3 parts: 1. A summary of Roman Catholic teaching on the subject and how they reveal the paradox, 2. Principal solutions offered to the paradox and what each implies concerning the efficacy of grace, 3. The efficacy of grace.
The depth of coverage and the use of terms unfamiliar to most outside seminaries, makes this a difficult book to follow at times. It also assumes a level of knowledge concerning Roman Catholic theology that many outside the church will not share. But, as far as completeness on the topic, it is still without rivals.